North to Pamplona

By | May 21, 2016

DSCN6523After a fabulous final night in Valencia which includes a dinner at Canela restaurant, in the shadows of the Torres de Quart, and a bit of fun at the Open Mic night at Radio City, we get our stuff together and set the GPS for Pamplona and a course Northward toward Barcelona before heading inland to see much more of the Spanish countryside.

The colours are superb, with shades of green in the paddocks and hills with dark rich red soil in places and poorer sandy areas. Stratified sedimentary ranges ruggedly frame the horizon, and the panorama is tinged with a range of hues from red through to soft pinks as the Spring flowers stake their claim on some pollen and regeneration.

There is a stark beauty about much of the scenery and it’s impossible to ignore the huge amount of infrastructure which has been built in Spain with dual carriageway roads everywhere carried across rivers and gorges by huge bridges.

Screenshot_20_05_2016__4_27_PMAll the way around Spain we have also seen massive investment in renewable energy.  Distant hills appear to sprout sticks until we get closer and the focus reveals hundreds of wind turbines; vanes turning languidly in the light breeze.  In other places huge farms of solar panels face South into the sun, with nearby sub-stations connecting their energy to users. It seems that this would be such a worthwhile outcome in the upper Hunter where, as open cuts are due to be regenerated they could be leveled and levied to fund installations of solar arrays which could use some of the poles and wire infrastructure which currently serves coal fired power stations.

The autovia moves into the Teruel district and  the hues of the landscape are dotted every so often with small villages, clustered in their terracotta and white around the steeple of their church. It’s interesting to imagine how life may have been in the days when this plateau was a much more isolated place.

Screenshot_20_05_2016__5_14_PMNow, it is home to a huge collection of aeroplanes which are stored here at a ‘ghost airport‘ before returning to or entering service or prior to salvage.  The sight of row upon row of aircraft in the middle of a flat plane, 1000 metres above sea level, in clear dry air, is surreal as we rush past.

Every now and then, a piece of roadside sculpture appears.

Screenshot_20_05_2016__4_28_PM Screenshot_20_05_2016__4_29_PM Screenshot_20_05_2016__4_30_PM

It seems that the Spanish like the idea of integrating art with some of the more mundane aspects of our modern life and the roadside installations certainly add variety to the trip.

After lunch in Zaragosa, we head up the auto-piste toward Pamplona, paying for the infrastructure spend along the way with three separate tolls.  Off in the distance, the last vestiges of snow decorate mountain tops and, elsewhere, low stone barns and shepherds’ huts give a sign of the winter climate. The glare of the sun is building, however, and it’s easy to imagine that summers here give good reason for the siesta.

We’re overnighting in Pamplona tonight before spending the weekend in San Sebastian.  Later on, we’ll go and have a look at the streets where the bulls run.


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